Summary: This was a devotion given at a youth event aimed at forgiveness and restoration.
It would be so nice for us to call a time-out and get the chance to correct our mistakes, wouldn’t it?
I accepted Christ on October 3rd, 1977. I attended church with a number of people that appeared on the outside to have their act together. They carried their Bibles everyday. They spoke words of praise everyday. They volunteered for everything at church. They prayed like this, “O most Omnipotent God…”. To me, they defined what it meant to be a new Christian. They were perfect! I never heard any of them talk about sinning. I didn’t hear them talk about struggles with temptation. I never saw any of them going to the altar when the preacher gave the invitation. The problem was that I wasn’t anything like them. I felt like I was always struggling with living the Christian life. I’d get angry about something and act impulsively about it. I’d see somebody do something and say things about them that were critical or hurtful. I’d hang out with my friends and they’d talk me into doing things a believer shouldn’t do. For the longest time I felt like I was the only Christian that blew it. There were so many times that I felt like saying “I give up.”
Then there came a time that I began to see what Christ’s love and grace was all about. I realized that Jesus didn’t only die for the sins I committed before October 3rd, 1977 but for the ones I commit after that too! Instead of feeling like a failure I started feeling like a work in progress.
Throughout scripture I started finding all these passages that talked about Jesus hanging out with sinners and misfits. And I said to myself, “Hey! I’m one of them!” I found that Jesus called 12 of the most unlikely folks to start His church.
There was a time in my life that some people did and said some things that really hurt me and they were people in the church. I became really bitter about and spent a couple years really upset with the church. I quit serving in the church and just took a back seat in being there for everybody. Gradually Christ dealt with the hurt in my heart and brought me back to forgiveness. Forgiveness for me and forgiveness from me to those that hurt me. He restored me to himself. Today I feel more fulfilled in my service to Him than I ever have. It’s more real! It’s not phony or puffed up. It’s simple, honest and loving.
All four gospels detail a very personal example of blowing it and restoration. We have the story of Peter’s denial of Christ. In the span of only a few hours, Peter goes from promising his allegiance to Jesus even unto death to denying Him openly in the courtyard. Let me read to you one of the passages that detail his failure.
When Peter realized that the very thing Christ had prophesied had come true it broke his heart. He went out of the courtyard and wept bitterly. He had failed. He had disowned the warm-hearted carpenter’s son that called him from an occupation of fishing to a life of fishing for men. How could he possibly continue on as PETER – the Rock! He was anything but. He had blown it all away out of fear and faithlessness.